Inside-Out Gallery: “Roots of Innovation in Somerville”

The theme for this year’s ArtBeat festival in Davis Square is “Roots”, and Artisan’s Asylum was asked to do a thematic installation for the gallery space in the windows of the CVS in Davis Square to be on during the festival. We decided on a theme of “Roots of industry in Somerville”, showing examples of work currently made by Asylum members as well as images of industry historically in Somerville. My main contribution, aside from coordination, was to create a huge collaborative map that took up the entire back of one window.
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MIT Mini Maker Faire

Last weekend I spent Saturday at MIT’s first Mini Maker Faire. The event couldn’t support sales, but after talking about it I realized that would be a good opportunity to do a collaborative/interactive project. I have a few ideas for digital interactive projects that have been rattling around in my mind for a while, but unfortunately I didn’t have the time or expertise to complete them in time for the event so I went low-tech.

table web

I brought a big piece of drawing paper and a variety of markers and crayons and just invited visitors to help me make a map. It was a super simple setup but people got surprisingly into it.

drawing web

We had a range of skill levels, scales and styles, but it came together! I spent a lot of my time at the table drawing map bits around everyone’s contributions, even the text ones. I’m not sure I would call the whole thing a map but I think people had fun contributing to it and it looks pretty cool all together!

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ArtBeat and "Map Your Own Davis Square"

Last weekend I had a booth at ArtBeat in Davis Square with some of my work as well as an experimental crowdsourced mapping project where visitors could add their experiences to a map of the Davis area. I’ve never done an interactive project before, and it was definitely a learning experience. I tried to anticipate what problems might arise, and I’m pleased to say that there weren’t any big problems, besides participation. I think that there were just too many steps — I tried to make it as open-ended as possible, which helped a little bit, but still most people just passed by, even if they expressed interest. It’s also the kind of project that only really gets off the ground when enough people have added to it to show value (and make individual submissions less prominent), so that can easily push it into a cycle of non-participation.
The booth started off with a list of instructions, flyers for recording inspiration, stickies and a blank map:

By the end of the festival, the outer edge of the map was covered with stickies, and the corresponding dots were interspersed throughout the map:

Some selected stories:

and other booth shots: